Primitive religion is not believed, it is danced!

Arthur Darby Nock

Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God;
And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

Elizabeth Browning

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Love is the Center

“If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it.”
                                                                                                                   Stephen Colbert

There are lots of commandments in the Bible
Lots of instructions
Do this
Don’t do that

Don’t eat shellfish -  Leviticus 11:9-12
Don’t get tattoos - Leviticus 19:28,
Kill all the heathen in the land – Deuteronomy 7 and 20
Smash the rebellious child’s head with a rock - (Deut. 21:18-21).
Keep the Sabbath -  Exodus 20
Die in order to live  - Matthew 16:24–25

There are deadly offenses.
Like being a psychic  -  “A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them; their blood will be on their own heads.” (Leviticus 20:27)
Getting raped while engaged. “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die.” (Deuteronomy 22:25) It’s cool though, because if you’re not engaged when you get raped, you just have to marry your rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28).
Getting raped and not screaming loud enough. “If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 22:23-24) Get it
Striking a father of mother is worthy of death

And lets not forget the seven deadly sins
    Envy = the desire to have an item or experience that someone else possesses
    Gluttony = excessive ongoing consumption of food or drink
   Greed or Avarice = an excessive pursuit of material possessions
    Lust = an uncontrollable passion or longing, especially for sexual desires
    Pride = excessive view of one's self without regard to others.
    Sloth = excessive laziness or the failure to act and utilize one’s talents
    Wrath = uncontrollable feelings of anger and hate towards another person

Yep, there are a lot things in the Bible
And down through the years people have wondered
What to hang on to, and what to let go

For Jesus told his followers they could bind or loosen
They can add things, and let things go
From that huge list of rules  (Don’t believe me?  Check out Matthew 16)

In other words , Jesus gave the disciple the right to make changes
And he did it himself!
“You have heard it said”, he sometimes said,  “But I say”  (Matthew 5)

But here is the thing.  He ended up being asked one time to distill it all down.
And he put it this way

Love God
Then love yourself  (God will help you with that)
Then you will be free to love others (and God will help you with that too)

Love God, love self, love others
Not complicated after all

A little later he got even more blunt
In that powerful parable about the sheep and the goats
There he tells us clearly what love looks like

It looks like
Feeding the hungry
Giving water to the thirsty
Being accepting and hospitable
Taking care of the sick
Having compassion toward those in trouble, even those who have created their own misery

If we do nothing else in the Bible says
We have to do these core things
Love God
Learn to love ourselves
And be people who, secure in God and secure in ourselves (no fear)
Reach out and take care of the vulnerable

If we don’t do these things
We are off the path


Some are saying the hungry should work harder
They don’t care if the water is poison
They would exclude those not like them
And would judge, and shame
They would deny people health care

They are off the path
They are violating God’s basic, core command

There is no excuse
You cannot minimize the vulnerable
You cannot blame them and shame them

You can only feed them, cloth them, provide them with clean water
Accept them,
Provide health care for them
Seek justice for them

You can only love them

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